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First season trainer Jessie Alford has a bit on. He and partner Josie Reid are expecting their first child next month, he’s training the only horse in his stable Held To Ransom, and is starting a new job with Woodend Beach trainer Matt Purvis. Things are just busy enough. Alford freely admits he gets nervous when Held To Ransom starts at the races but he need not have worried today at Ascot Park, because the Live Or Die mare won easily in the hands of Brad Williamson. Williamson got the five year old mare in the one one early with Bella Sara making the pace. Held To Ransom was travelling nicely throughout and once balanced up in the home straight she went down to the finishing line to easily win by a length and a half from Folklore. The win was the mare’s third in a row. “I’ve only had her for about six weeks. She needs the beach. She was probably going to go back to Regan Todd’s. I asked if I could buy her. She’s a family horse who just swims instead of jogging, she just loves the beach,” said Alford after the win. Alford hadn’t had any background in harness racing until former Southland trainer/driver,  but Jonny Cox got him involved. “Coxey got me into it. I was helping him out a few years ago and we became friends. I got sick of my office job (selling survey and building equipment) so I thought stuff it, I’ll do something I like. I took a bit of a pay cut and worked for Michael House and Andrew Stuart, whose been really good to me, and I’m about to go to the beach and work for Matt.” Held To Ransom was previously trained by Stuart who managed to get a number of placings out of the mare, but missed out on that elusive win. Alford also holds a junior driver’s license but after driving Held To Ransom a number of times he says he now prefers to hand the reins to other drivers. “For some reason I just don’t drive her that well so I just let other people do it. I’d like to keep her but I’ve got a baby girl on the way in late January. This will help get her a few extra treats which is good.” Brad Williamson with Jessie Alford and Held To Ransom              -photo by Bruce Stewart The win capped off a stellar day for Brad Williamson who won three  of the races  on the ten race card. Brother Nathan also won a race, driving Revitalise for good stable client Neville Cleaver who bought the diminutive Bettors Delight gelding at the sales for $15,000. He received a nice trail and was too good, beating Glenledi Captain by two and half lengths.   Bruce Stewart

Pembrook Playboy was in the zone today at Ascot Park and proved he was our best three year old at this stage of the Southland season. “Those small fields are always (tactical) and there were a few horses in the race that had chances. “I had two choices. To go round and sit parked or too press on. If I pressed on that would leave See Ya Write parked again. That’s what I did and it couldn’t have worked out better. I’m thrilled that I was able to use him twice. He showed a lot of speed with a lap to go and he still had a kick at the finish,” said trainer driver Nathan Williamson. Williamson decided to target today’s $15,000.00 Southland Express Nugget Final rather than going north. “We sacrificed not going to the South of the Waitaki race at Addington to stay at home for this race.” One of the races Williamson has on his radar for Pembrook Playboy is the $14,000 Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes at Gore at Christmas time. “After that I’m not too sure as he’s getting pretty highly rated. We might just take him to Canterbury later on.” Pembrook Playboy is by Bettor’s Delight out of the three win Christian Cullen mare Dudinka’s Star and is owned by Chris Alcock. He was bought at the Sale of the Stars for $28,000. Winning owner Chris Alcock with daughter Justine                             --Bruce Stewart photo Ownership of good horses is not new to Alcock. His first horse was Majestic Chance gelding Black Stump which won four races. He also won the 1978 Kurow Cup but was ultimately disqualified. “We protested but there was no video footage because the fellow didn’t turn up that day,” Alcock said. He also had a share in another son of Majestic Chance, Crow Bar which won nine races. “He won on three of the days when the Cup Meeting was run over four days. On the other day he walked home (was pulled up).” Alcock also had shares in Dynamite a full-brother to Crow Bar which won once. He part-owns Canterbury trotter Izmok as well as recent Wyndham winner King Of Heroes and is in the Tri-Code Syndicate which races Please Shuddup.   Bruce Stewart

Wyndham committee man Ian Hunter has spent the past decade developing his trotting breed. And the win by the highly talented Andy Hall which won on debut at the Young Quinn Raceway today highlights the breed’s continuing success. Hunter has bred a host of winners from Andy Hall’s dam Delcola, (herself the winner of six races) which include Splash Cola (9), Delestic (3) and Delson (3 wins from 8 starts). Andy Hall was made favourite in today’s race on the back of some impressive workout wins. From barrier one he began slowly but safely for trainer driver Nathan Williamson. “The only way I thought he could make a mistake was if I tried to rush him at the start,” he said. After racing back for the first part Williamson was able to get a good drag into the race when Susies Way started to move up in the outside running line with 1000 metres to run. At the 600 Williamson moved the giant trotter out three wide and progressed forward. At the top of the straight Andy Hall was on equal terms with Susies Way but proved too strong at the finish, winning by two and a quarter lengths. “He showed good manners, trotted well and finished the race off so I couldn’t have been happier. He’s got a nice way of trotting and generally he’s quite solid that way.” Williamson has had the Andover Hall gelding since he was a young horse and he says at times he’s been a bit of a handful but the talent has always been there. “He was broken in and had a prep as a young horse, then he had preparations at two and three. He’s just kept on growing. He’s been in and out of the stable so he’s been well schooled. That’s probably where he gets his good manners from.” Williamson says he’ll back off the horse a bit now and he probably won’t be seen at the races for at least another four weeks. “I’ll keep him on the big tracks for now. He’s promising, and looks like a horse with a bit of a future.” In the second trot of the afternoon Williamson, driving the favourite and last start winner Sekkie Monkey, had to settle for second. After sitting parked for the entire journey she couldn’t quite get to pacemaker Whatwillbeewillbee driven astutely by Jonny Cox. The winning margin was a nose. Cox had won earlier in the day on Held To Ransom, providing young trainer Jesse Alford with his first winner. Alford was unable to drive the mare as he was suspended at last weekend’s Wyndham meeting for careless driving. Cox salutes – First winner for trainer Jesse Alford – Photo Bruce Stewart Meanwhile the first season training partnership of Ross and Chris Wilson scored back to back wins when Swift Robyn won her second race and Bridesdale Robyn won her sixth race in a heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series. At the 600 metres driver Craig Ferguson launched Swift Robyn forward in a lightning move. She was three wide and challenging just before straightening for the run in and came down the middle of the track bravely holding on to beat Bettors Atom by a length and a quarter. Bridesdale Robyn was the winner in Race Four. Ferguson blasted her off the gate from the wide draw and got to the top after a short battle with Team Kiwi. Bridesdale Robyn (7) winning her Southern Belle heat    – Photo Bruce Stewart From that point the Christian Cullen mare ran her rivals along at speed. Heading up the straight, Bridesdale Robyn and Team Kiwi had a good old battle with the Wilson trained mare getting there by a head. The 1609 metres was run in 1-55.5.   Bruce Stewart

The new training partnership of Mark Jones and Benny Hill won it’s first two races at the Wyndham Harness Racing Club’s meeting today. Three year old Art Major colt Silent Major got the partnership on the board when he sat parked, then led and held on to beat Cassius Bromac. The winning margin was half a neck. “He’s pretty green and lazy but he’s a nice little three year old. He’s got good manners but he hasn’t done bugger all,” said driver Ricky May. It was just only Silent Major’s fourth start. He ran second on debut at Timaru, then he galloped at his next start at Addington. “He drew the outside of the gate. I was pulling him back and he stuck his head down and galloped so we just wrote that one off.” Silent Major is a half-brother to useful types in Back In Black, Hestia Franco and Heretic Franco. Stylish Memphis proved her class when at her first start as a three year, she took full advantage of a trail to sprint home to win the Kubala Seeds Stella Frost Stakes for fillies and mares. From a wide draw driver Ricky May took her forward to lead before handing up to Pearl Harbour. “I could have stayed in front but I thought it was probably the right thing to do first up. She probably needed the run today,” May said. May took the passing lane and held on to beat Total Diva. “I got a bit lucky, Becky’s one galloped (Might Be Me).” Might Be Me looked to be making the winning run down the middle of the track but galloped 30 metres before the finish line. “She hit the line and pulled up. She did it at the trials the other day but Bettor’s Delights are like that. The others were right on the outside of the track so she probably didn’t see them. That was the only thing she did wrong today.” In the presentation May said Stylish Memphis is likely to head to Auckland to try some of the bigger three year old fillies races. “She’s a pretty nice horse and we haven’t seen the best of her. This was only her fourth start at the races and she ran fifth at the Harness Jewels so she’s not too far away.” Stylish Memphis holds out Total Diva  with a galloping Might Be Me and Allan Beck (white cap) three out – Photo Bruce Stewart. May says the Jones and Hill partnership is working around 65 horses between them and is enthused with the new training regime. “They’re trying something different. They want to be competitive with the Purdons and the Dunns. With more owners it gives them more buying power to go to the Sales. It’s a big move and Benny was pretty nervous about it. He and Mark have been pretty good cobbers for a few years. The game needs things like this. I was with Benny at Addington when the news first came out and three or four of Mark Jones owners came up to him and said the move is going to be great. Benny’s owners are thinking the same I think.” Portabella trainer Steve Ashton has trained a few horses over the years with the prefix Sunnivue, and the latest, Sunnivue Phileah, won today at Wyndham. Other Sunnivue winners for Ashton have been Sunnivue Impulse (6), Sunnivue Ted (9) and Sunnivue Caesar (4). Tiger Moth provided Ashburton trainer Graham Bond with his first winner since Superfecta won for him in May 2017. Tiger Moth and Nathan Williamson winning – Photo Bruce Stewart Bond has trained 76 winners – most of which were from his Southland base at Drummond in the 1980s and ’90s. Abby May provided Milton trainer Lyndon Durham with his eighth winner today. He’s been training off and on since 2001 – his first winner was Chance A Knight at Gore. Abby May was having only  her thirteenth start today and was driven by Wyndham reinsman Craig Ferguson who also drove Sunnivue Phileah for the win.   Bruce Stewart

Oamaru reinsman Matty Williamson drove his 800th winner at Gore today. “I had a look a fortnight ago and then Charlotte (partner Charlotte Purvis) said I was on 799. The goal is to beat Nathan (brother) to 1000 so I’ve got him in a bit of bother now, as long as I don’t get injured – touch wood,” Williamson said after driving favourite Stingray Tara for Ryal Bush trainer Hamish Hunter to win. Williamson said his career highlights so far are winning three Group One races on Leighton Hest, Pembrooks Delight and Luisanabelle Midfrew. “Leighton Hest was my first which was massive, Pembrooks Delight my first pacing win for the Knights who were big supporters of me when I started, and Luisanabelle Midfrew for Nigel McGrath. Hopefully there’s another Group One horse coming along.” Williamson said representing New Zealand in the World Drivers Championship in Sweden was another highlight. “Yeah the trip of a lifetime. I was really lucky. I loved all the people I met. The trainers were great to drive for just like they are here.” Stingray Tara lead from Gate Two and dictated all the terms to hold out an improved Ronnie Pickering by three quarters of a length. “He’s gone super. The horse felt good. He’s quite lazy but when I asked him at the top of the straight he really dropped his bum and went. I’m thinking the grade rise shouldn’t be too hard for him.” In the last few seasons Williamson has driven the majority of Hunter’s horses,  as the veteran driver takes a step back from raceday driving. “Hamish is great to drive for. There is never any pressure. Even when I drive a bad race, I say sorry, and he says good as gold.” Stingray Tara returning after winning                                       --Bruce Stewart photo Matty’s brothers Nathan and Brad are expected to reach their own milestones this season. As a driver Brad is three wins away from 300 while older brother Nathan has fifteen winners to drive before he gets to 800.   Bruce Stewart

Burnham trainer Mark Jones has always been a fan of Southern Harness racing. He loves to head south to set up his three year olds for both the Southern Supremacy Stakes and the Southland Oaks later in the season. In consecutive races at Gore today he produced a couple of three year olds that look capable of featuring in both those finals at Ascot Park in April. Plutonium Lady easily won the $15,000 Ladyship Final beating hot favourite Need You Now by six lengths after leading and clearing out at the top of the straight. The winning time of 2-43.2 was impressive, in the cold easterly conditions. “She’s still got a lot to learn but a typical Bettor’s on race day when she becomes a racehorse,” Jones said. Plutonium Lady had won two races ago at Winton and is now the early season leader on the Southland Oaks leader board. “She might have one more go at the Sires Stakes Heat at Addington. We won’t take her to Auckland. We’ll just target the filly’s races down here and she may go to the New South Wales Oaks in February. Late in the season will be the Nevele R and New Zealand Oaks and the Southland Oaks. She’ll be a better filly later on so if we look after her now it’ll work out good.” Plutonium Lady is owned by Sir Loins Limited and Starmark Limited which consist of Grant Hatton, Michael Jones and Jim Haines. “It looks as though we picked the right one out at the sales.” In the next race Burnham Boy was posted three wide from the start with driver Sam Ottley having to let him drift back to the rear. With just over a lap to run she took the Bettor’s Delight gelding three wide to improve round the field and sat parked from the 800. Just before turning in, Ottley pulled the ear plugs and soon took the lead from pacemaker Fireforefiddle. And typical of the Bettor’s Delight breed, fought bravely to beat Targaryen by a length and a quarter. Burnham Boy also wearing number 4 saddle cloth winning for trainer Mark Jones   – Photo Bruce Stewart In the last race of the day Ottley reined Ideal Draw to win. It was the driver’s 400th winner. Earlier in the week Jones announced that from the beginning of next month, he and Benny Hill are going into training partnership. “It’s a new challenge and a chance to refocus and get back on track. It’s an indication that two pretty above average trainers are battling, so we decided to join forces and get stronger. That’s the way forward. The big trainers are getting bigger so we have to combine our forces and get our owners together. It’s got to be better in the long run.” Earlier in the day Helluva Way cleared maiden ranks at Gore for harness identity Art Bloxham. Helluva Way returning to the birdcage with driver Blair Orange   – Photo Bruce Stewart The five year old having its fifteenth start, muscled out favourite Orlando Magic by a head. It’s was Bloxham’s first winner since Commanding View at Roxburgh in 2008. The drop back system worked perfectly for Skyvalley mare Spotlight The Valley in the McKeown Group Junior Drivers Trot. Spotlight The Valley has won seven races, and today raced against horses who’ve had either one or two wins. After trailing leader Justan’s Sister, she came up the passing lane for driver Johnny Morrison to nab Justan’s Sister by a head. Trained at Balfour by Robert Wilson, the seven year old is raced by the Sunbeam Syndicate.   Bruce Stewart

Junior driver Ellie Barron took luck out of the equation when she took Alpine Retreat straight to the lead in the first trot of the day at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park today (Saturday). She proceeded to open up a good margin on the chasing pack and with a good number of his rivals breaking, Alpine Retreat ended up winning by eleven lengths. The win was a family affair as Grandfather Ron and father Clark (who trains the gelding) share in the ownership. New Zealand’s leading driver Blair Orange made the most of a good draw when he took Yoha straight to the lead in the next race. He was able to dictate all the pace with favourite Renegade Rose on his back. The three year old Terror To Love filly proved too strong, beating Renegade Rose by a length and three quarters with Allaboutjoy running home nicely for third. Orange went back to back when another of the progeny of Terror To Love, Terror The Christian, beat another Canterbury visitor Payment Plan. Terror The Christian                                                                      --photo Bruce Stewart Co-trainer Chris Wilson missed seeing his first winner when Robyns Playboy returned to winning form in the Ultimate Machete at Alabar Handicap Pace. Wilson, who now trains in partnership with his father Ross, was away in Oamaru watching his sons Callum and Riley playing hockey. When Robyns Playboy last started in the Hannon Memorial, it finished seventh. Racing in a lower grade today helped his cause, and brought his wins to a total of seven. Robyns Playboy winning                                                        --photo Bruce Stewart Robbie Royale won his second race in as many weeks when he proved too strong for backmarker Monty Python in the feature trot of the day. The six year old lead for part of the race before handing up to Monty Python with a lap to run. When the field straightened for the run home, driver Brent Barclay came up the inside to beat Monty Python by half a length with the handicap being the difference at the business end of the race. Robbie Royale has now won seven races for Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray. Well known Southland Harness Administrator Peter Burns passed away in Invercargill on Tuesday. Peter Burns was an Accountant by profession and served for many years as Secretary for most of the Southern Clubs. He also spent a long period on the Executive of Harness Racing New Zealand. On the breeding front he was one of the leading lights in promoting the syndication of the successful imported sire Knowing Bret, and he managed the Syndicate’s financial affairs. His late wife Rewa also enjoyed the harness industry as a breeder and owner. The family’s finest homebred racehorse was Haughty Romeo. He was New Zealand’s first three year old pacer to go under two minutes when he ran 1-58.4 in a time trial at Winton. Peter’s funeral will be held on Monday. Bruce Stewart

The locally trained Onesmartfella won the gold when most thought the Nuggets Final at Ascot Park today would go to either of the Canterbury raiders, Willison or Carlos Bromac. In the great front running drive by Nathan Williamson and without too much attention from other runners, the Tintin In America gelding took out the $15,000 final by two and a half lengths from Carlos Bromac, with a head back to favourite Willison. Onesmartfella is trained at Ascot Park by Brent Shirley and is owned by breeder John Edminstin and good mate Tony Whaanga. Onesmartfella is out of the Lis Mara mare Kentucky Girl which won her first race,  but unfortunately broke down and was retired to the broodmare paddock. Onesmartfella which was named by Tony, is the mare’s first foal. “He named it in the Zoo Bar at the Falls Hotel in Mataura,” Shirley said. He said Onesmartfella was small in stature and the stable had to wait on him. “I always knew he had speed but I didn’t know how much bottom he had. We found out last time (when he ran second after been challenged) that he had a bit of bottom.” Shirley isn’t sure where Onesmartfella will start next but said he’ll look out for a Junior Drivers race which will be penalty free. The win was the forty first for Edminstin as an owner. His winners include When The Music’s Over and Rowchester. He’s also part of the BBC Syndicate.                                                                               – Photo Bruce Stewart Earlier in the day Williamson won with Pembrook Playboy who he’d thought would be a run short. But the horse showed good qualities after he lead and easily recorded his first win. “I just thought he might have needed the run but he got away with some easy sectionals in front and that helped.” From barrier five Williamson pushed forward and after 200 metres was in front. “He was pretty green in front – he was running round a bit. He was a bit lazy – but when I asked him to quicken he did.” The winning margin was four and a quarter lengths with outsider Kramer running second. “I think he’ll improve with the run.”                                                                                       – Photo Bruce Stewart Williamson says he’ll target the Nuggets races with the three year old and look at lining up in the Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes at Gore at Christmas time, and perhaps the Supremacy later in the season. Later in the day Triroyale Brigade also won for the stable. He capitalised on a nice trail and sprinted too well for junior driver Mark Hurrell to beat Lawrence and Betterthanbrie both of which came home late. Williamson says he’s expecting Triroyale Brigade to have a good season. The winning drive was the second of the day for Hurrell who also won on the Craig Laurenson trained Dismara. Given a great run, Dismara proved too good for thea twelve other runners in the Kubala Seeds Mobile Pace. Placed in the outside running line, Hurrell followed Black Ops forward at the 350 metre mark and came down the middle of the track to win impressively by one and a quarter lengths. It was the mare’s third win in forty five starts. Meanwhile Williamson’s quality trotter Dark Horse made an appearance at the Winton Workouts yesterday racing against the pacers. The Bacardi Lindy mare hasn’t been seen at the race track for nearly two years after sustaining a number of injuries. “She’s come through the run nice and is sound so that’s the main thing. She’ll have another run (workout) somewhere and we’ll access where we go after that,” Williamson said. Dark Horse holds a nomination for the Dominion Handicap.   Bruce Stewart

The Robert Dunn trained Carlos Bromac capitalised on a perfect sit behind leader Onesmartfella to win the Macca Lodge Mobile Pace at the Invercargill Harness Racing meeting at Ascot Park today (Saturday). “I drew one, got a nice trail all the way so that helped but he did it quite nice,” said driver John Dunn after the win. The winning margin was a length and a half from a brave Onesmartfella who was worked over twice in the lead. Carlos Bromac was bought by Robert and John Dunn for $33,000 at the Christchurch Yearling Sales. He’s out of the unraced Art Major mare Cha Cha Bromac and is closely related to Attorney General, Cullen Bromac and a host of other winners. “At two he wasn’t the best of pacers but his gait’s got a lot better now. We still have a wee bit to work on.” Dunn says the horse will stay down in Southland for Thursday’s Winton meeting. “If he goes nice there we’ll leave him down for the Nuggets (Nuggets Final) then take him home and regroup. He’s paid up for the Sires Stakes so hopefully he improves enough for that.” The three year old Bettor’s Delight gelding is part-owned by Southlander Charlie Templeton. “He loves it old Charlie. It’s good to bring a horse down here because he flies up (to Christchurch) all the time and watches his horses go.” Templeton has owned a few horses over the years and currently races the three win Mach Three mare Nakuru and her unraced two year old half-sister Shanika out of the Dunn stable. John Dunn was also successful early in the day when he drove the Shannon Armour trained gelding Dalness Arizona to win at odds of 20 to 1. Dalness Arizona holds on to beat Hans Ideal                          – Photo Bruce Stewart Other winners on the day included Emmersyn Lee for Canterbury trainer Jim Curtin, Winning Bones which won after a daring drive by Brent Barclay and the Brad Mowbray trained Kingmaker.   Bruce Stewart

Unfortunately boom Southland pacer U May Cullect won’t line up in tomorrow’s Hannon Memorial. “It’s not a big deal. He got a stone bruise yesterday. We just didn’t want to go up there and do something silly. It’s not his bad leg, it’s the other one and if he favours it, it might put some pressure on the other one,” said co-trainer Tank Ellis. Ellis said the horse will have the weekend off, do plenty of wading in the salt water at Oreti Beach and will probably head up to Addington in a fortnight. “It not the end of the world to us, it’s just a wee hiccup.”   Bruce Stewart  

Gore trainer John Ryan showed what a master he is with the square gaiters today at Winton (Sunday) when he produced Picketts Ridge to win the Majestic Son At Alabar Handicap Trot. The six year old Skyvalley gelding driven by regular pilot Nathan Williamson, hadn’t raced since the Riverton meeting at Ascot Park in November last year and had only two workouts to prepare him for today’s run. “I was thrilled with him. What a tremendous training effort by John to get him that sharp and go 3-02 on a cold day. Today was the best he’s felt as far as his gait goes. He felt really solid. He’s always had the ability to be a really good horse.” Picketts Ridge’s winning margin was two and a half lengths over Wee Man Trouble. The winning time on a cold eight degree day of 3-02.6 was 1.6 seconds outside of the track record of 3-01.0  held by Majestic Man. It was Picketts Ridge’s fifth win in eleven starts and he looks destined for a better grade. The day also proved rewarding for two Canterbury drivers. Leading reinsman Blair Orange drove three winners; Plutonium Lady for trainer Mark Jones, Rah De Rah for Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders and impressive looking Tom Martin which won his second race in as many starts. The Paul Court trained Tom Martin lead early before handing up to Kingmaker. But when Hazer started to come round the field with 1700 metres to run Orange took the Mach Three gelding to the front again and there he stayed. His winning margin over Amore Lancôme was a length and a quarter. Tom Martin holds out Amore Lancome                                             --Bruce Stewart photo “He’s a big strong guy who’s still learning but the motor’s there. He just hasn’t got the best pacing actions and he can chuck a few steps in here and there. He’s also not a great steering horse just yet but he’ll only get better. Today he was always travelling well so I was happy enough,” Orange said after the run. Tom Martin’s win capped off a good day for West Otago breeder and trainer John Stiven. He bought Raindowne, the dam of Tom Martin, a few years ago of Tuapeka Lodge. Later in the day Stiven produced Countess Of Arden to win her second race and his first win as a trainer. Canterbury driver John Dunn was also in good form, driving two winners back to back. The first was the Bettor’s Delight filly Need You Now – she beat second favourite Kickupyaheels by half a neck. The two locked wheels close to the finish and Robin Swain trainer of Kickupyaheels lodged a protest which was later dismissed. Need to Know just holding out Kickupyaheels – their wheels locked together   --Bruce Stewart photo Need You Now is raced by All Black captain Kieran Reed, former All Black Andy Ellis and the Woodlands Partnership Syndicate Number Two. She’s out of the Badlands’ Hanover mare Lady Antebellum and is a half-sister to Billy Badger which won eight races for Robert Dunn who also trains Need You Now. In the following race the father and son combination lined up three year old Sportswriter gelding Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon. He took the race out, beating Invaluable by a length and a quarter. Another success on the day was converted pacer Justan’s Sister which won her first race in the trotting gait for trainer Shane Matheson.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Quality trotter Picketts Ridge is back at the workouts after nearly a year away from racing. The six year old gelding has won four of it’s ten starts, has been placed four other times and is looking as though he could progress into the best grade. He last raced at the Riverton meeting at Ascot Park in November, winning for trainer John Ryan and driver Nathan Williamson. “He trotted really badly when he won at Riverton. He was virtually galloping in behind and trotting in front. He had an old injury in a cannon bone in one of his back legs. It was hard and calloused but all of a sudden it turned to sponge. We tried all kinds of treatments in the first month as the horse carried on working. We couldn’t get all the inflammation to go away so we just turned him out and let nature take it’s course. He was on a 100 acre block on the hills by the repeater station for six months,” said Ryan.   The son of Skyvalley has been in work for 12 weeks and he won at yesterday’s Wyndham workouts. “I was really pleased. He was a wee bit aggressive and fresh.” Ryan says it appears there won’t be many races for Picketts Ridge which carries a R75 rating in the early part of the new season, so he may have to travel north. He’s got his fingers crossed that the gelding’s leg will hold up and that he won’t be subjected to any more injuries. “I put plenty of water on it when we hose him down as well as ice treatment.”    Bruce Stewart

Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson had one of those dream nights in Australia last night, winning two Group One races at the Melton track, and both trotters were very impressive. “It’s getting up there. To win two Group One races in one night and three Group One races with two horses in six weeks is a pretty good effort I’d say,” said Williamson, rating last night’s achievement. Three year old trotting filly Liberty Stride got the ball rolling, winning her Breeders Crown Final by 19.4 metres in the hands of former New Zealand reinsman Anthony Butt. One race later Ultimate Stride continued on his winning way by taking out the two year old section of the Breeders Crown. Having completed his Australian trip unbeaten – he’s won all of his four starts and has banked $87,490 for owners Emilio and Mary Rosati. Williamson who’s no stranger to taking horses to Australia says both horses were eligible for the rich series, so a trip to Australia was always a possibility. “We just had to make sure their form was right. Liberty Stride won at Forbury and went super. Ultimate Stride had a couple of wee issues at the Jewels so I had to get on top of that. He’s a very soft skinned horse and was having trouble with cracking his heels and bleeding. Once that happens they’re not happy. We gave him a wee bit of time off.” Normally members of the Williamson family drive Phil’s horses on both sides of the Tasman but not this time, with Williamson hiring expat Anthony Butt. “He’s a big race driver and that showed in Liberty Stride’s race. He probably outdrove the others. I used him when I came over for the Interdominions. With the boys (Nathan and Brad) having their own busy lifestyles with their own teams and Matty having just been away to the World Drivers Championships it made more sense to use Anthony.” Ultimate Stride’s dam One Over Kenny won six races in Australia including the Group One Australasian Trotting Championship and the EB Cochran Trotters Cup in 2007, and a semi-final of the 2009 Interdominions. Jasmyn’s Gift, the dam of Liberty Stride also raced in Australia but without much luck. Williamson says Ultimate Stride will return home on Wednesday but Liberty Stride will stay in Australia to be trained by Brent Lilley.  “As a four year old mare there’s not a lot of opportunity in New Zealand. She’s up to it but it would be harder. If she gets a nomination for the Harness Jewels she’ll come back to me for that. Brent’s been a wonderful host and has looked after me really well.” Ultimate Stride, after a busy juvenile season will now have time off. “He’ll have six to eight weeks off and we’ll look towards racing him after Christmas. All going well we’ll head back to Australia for the Three Year Old Breeders Crown and we’ll have another crack at the Victoria Derby. It was the only one that got away from us on the trip.” Springbank Richard won the Group One Victoria Derby for Williamson and son Nathan in 2007.   Bruce Stewart

Southland’s Harness Awards were presented tonight (Sunday) at a Gala dinner at Ascot Park Hotel. Unbeaten first season pacer U May Cullect took out the prestigious Horse of the Year title for owner Tom Kilkelly and trainers Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis. The six year old is back in work and expected to return to the race track in early October. Gore trainer Ross Wilson won the Achievement of the Year award. Wilson’s stable star Robyns Playboy won six races and ran an excellent third at the end of season Harness Jewels. Christian Dreamer, owned by Vin and Daphne Devery, took out the Southland Broodmare of the Year. Amazing Dream was the mare’s outstanding performer on the track this season banking $205,467. Winter Rose was added to the Elite Broodmares Honours Board while a special award was presented to Charlie and Ailsa Smaill, owners of the prolific broodmare Janine Jaccka which has left the winners of 46 races. Southland’s leading Junior Driver Ellie Barron received an Excellence Award for her involvement as an Ambassador in the Women’s Cancer Fundraiser Team Teal. Contribution Awards were received by long time administrator and breeder Brendan Fahy and the Southland Kidz Karts group.   Here are all the winners:   Washington VC – Bryleigh Stud Southland Broodmare of the Year   Christian Dreamer (Christian Cullen – Dreamy Atom) Owners: Vin and Daphne Devery.   The dam of four horses to race this season, all winners. Catch The Dream (2) $19,070. Amazing Dream (3) $205,467 including wins in the Listed NZ Yearling Sale Two Year Old. Fillies Final, First in the Group One Caduceus Two Year Old Fillies Classic, Second in the Group One NZ Sires Stakes Two Year Old Fillies Championship and third in both the Group Two Delightful Lady Classic and Group One Two Year Old Diamond. Dream Major (1) $8,120. Chase The Dream - Now the winners $560,036 and 20 races in New Zealand, Australia and America.   Southland Harness Awards – Night N Day Southland Horse of the Year   U May Cullect - Owner: Tom Kilkelly. Recorded a new track and Southland mobile record at Winton for four year old and older geldings and entires over 1609 metres of 1-52.1. Unbeaten in his first seven races including the Listed Uncut Gems at Addington for geldings and entires and the Bluff Cup. NZB Standardbred Southland Achievement of the Year   Ross Wilson 2018- 2019 training stats: 162-15-17-15 $174,034 UDR .2357. Trained Southland leading stakes earning pacer Robyns Playboy which ran third in the $150,000 Group One Three Year Old Emerald . Recorded his 100th training win during the season when Bridesdale Robyn won at Gore. Biggest winners: Robyns Playboy (6), Bridesdale Robyn (4) and Annie Fitz (3). Elite Broodmare   Winter Rose (In The Pocket – Bella Chip) – Owner: John and Judy Stiven All of her ten foals of racing age have qualified with eight winning races. Her foals have won 47 races and $1,578,177. 2012 Southland Broodmare of the Year Award. 2014-2015 New Zealand Harness Racing Broodmare Excellence Award. Her biggest winner have been: Bettor’s Strike (16) $890,201, Southwind Arden (9) $150,127, Arden’s Choice (7) $282,296 and Rocknroll Arden (6) $172,154. Winter Roses fillies are now leaving winners – South Beach Arden (out of South Wind Arden -2 ) and Pearl Harbour (out of Arden Caviar -1).   Other Awards:   Special Broodmare Award   Janine Jaccka (Sundon – Spiritual Powers) –Owners: Charlie and Ailsa Smaill. All of her seven foals of racing age have qualified and won races. Her foals have won a total of 46 races. In all, Janine Jaccka’s foals have won $528,168. Her biggest winners have been Jaccka Jack (14) $138,746, Jaccka Justy (13) $235,467, Jen Jaccka (9) $81,473 and Jess Jaccka (5) $35,835. Southland Harness Racing Award of Excellence: Ellie Barron   Contribution to Harness Racing Recipients: BJ Fahy. Kidz Kartz Southland.   Southland’s Leading Drivers of Trotters: Nathan Williamson (16).   Southland Harness Awards – Two Year Old Colt or Gelding of the Year: Cassius Bromac – MCC Syndicate; Trainer: BR Gray.   SSB Trophy (Leading Stake Earners 2018-2019): Three Year Old Filly: Allaboutdreams (M &Mrs S Little and BR Gray). Aged Race Mare: I’mallaboutthebase (SR & Mrs CJL Baucke).   New Zealand Record Holders: Melina Lowe (PD & BD Duffy) 2-53.6 2400 metres mobile 08/09/2018 – Winton. Please Shuddup (Tricode Syndicate, Tricode Number Two Syndicate and Dolce Syndicate) 2-53.3 2400 metre mobile 16/12/2018 – Winton.   SSB Fastest Mile Rate Filly/Mare 2018-2019 Shezacullengirl (M & Mrs S Little, Havtime Breeding Limited – Trainers Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis 1-53.1 31/01/2019 – Wyndham.   1-58.0 Pins Better Galleon (CJ Murdoch, RE Wilson)               28/10/2018 Invercargill  1.57.8. English Rose (SWR Gillan) 14/09/2018 Auckland 1.57.8. Grace Burns (T Kilkelly) 08/09/2018 Winton 1.55.8. Honor And Glory (NJ & Mrs DC Cournane) 23/11/2018 Invercargill 1.57.3. Kilowatt Kid (LF Thomson, IG Thomson)               28/10/2018 Invercargill  1.56.7. Mach’s Back (MJ Little)  31/01/2019 Wyndham 1.52.5. Melina Lowe (P Duffy)  08/09/2018 Winton 1.56.4. Mossdale Art (AG Affleck) 16/12/2018 Winton 1.52.5. Mossdale Rose (AG Affleck) 22/10/2018               Ashburton 1.54.2. Mr Kiwi (BL & Mrs KE Calder) 23/11/2018 Invercargill 1.57.9. Rockabilly Blues (FJ & Mrs KV Price) 18/11/2018 Wyndham 1.55.6. Shezacullengirl (MJ Little) 16/12/2018 Winton 1.55.0. U May Cullect (T Kilkelly) 23/03/2019 Wairio 1.52.1. Vintage Cheddar (LF Thomson, IG Thomson) 17/05/2019 NZ Metro 1.55.0.   Robin Dundee Club Three Year Old Colt or Gelding of the Year: Robyns Playboy: Owner: SR Wilson Trainer: SR Wilson.   Robin Dundee Club Three Year Old Filly of the Year: Swift Robyn: Owners: SR Wilson, R & Mrs HF Wilson Trainers; SR Wilson.   Caduceus Club of Southland Trotter of the Year: King Cassidy – CP Gerken, TR Davies, Miss TL Ashton Trainer: BR Gray.     Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

The Ivan Court trained Silk cleared maiden ranks at her sixth start at Gore today. The four year old Sir Lincoln mare has been placed in four of her first five starts and the win was overdue. Court said the mare can be a bit of a handful and she has got keen in some of her previous starts. She’s out of the Bettor’s Delight mare Brunswick which was unplaced in eight starts for Court. He said he was confident he’d get a win both days when he took the mare to Nelson in June, but she was unlucky on both days finishing third and fourth. At her last start at Addington she broke during the score up and missed the start by six lengths before driver Robbie Holmes took her to the lead with a lap to run. She was run down, finishing second by three quarters of a length. Silk winning her first race at Gore today                            - Photo Bruce Stewart Silk is likely to have a short break and be given light cart work to help settle her for her next set of race starts. Court predicts a good future for Silk. He says she’ll be aimed at the $15,000 Ladyship Final which will be held on the Gore track on the 12th October. Court has a Terror To Love gelding out of the mare which he says runs along nicely but is on the small side. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Local mare Elva Jaccka won her fourth race for owners Charlie and Alisa Smaill and trainer Brett Gray. The Tintin In America six year old hadn’t been sighted at early season workouts but Gray said her work during the week indicated she’d perform well today. Elva Jaccka easily                      - Photo Bruce Stewart After the early rush driver Brent Barclay had to settle Elva Jaccka three back on the inside as Star Ruler shot to the lead. At the 350 Barclay was able to move off the inside running line and was up quickly to challenge a tiring Star Ruler. Elva Jaccka just needed encouraging in the run home and Barclay didn’t have to activate the hood. The winning margin was four and three quarters of a length and her time for the 2200 metres of 2-46.6 was the fastest of the day. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Bettor’s Delight gelding Willison cemented his place in the first Nuggets Final when he won the Barclay-Ellis Racing Mobile Pace. From a second row draw driver Sam Ottley settled Willison fourth last on the outside. With just over a lap to run Ottley decided to move forward and he flushed out third favourite Leap Of Faith. Ottley was left three wide when Leap Of Faith got to the lead inside the 600. But he didn’t panic and waited just before straightening up before pulling the ear plugs. The gelding gave plenty to wear down Leap Of Faith and won by a neck. Jones says he’s a typical Bettors Delight: tough. Willison beating Leap Of Faith                  - Photo Bruce Stewart  The three year old is out of Classical Art which won five races here as a three year old for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen before heading to Australia. She won another seven races in Australia before being sent to stud. Willison is her first foal. Jones bought the horse at the Australian Sales and says he’s currently the pick of his three year olds. He’s owned by a host of owners whose names were all crammed into the race book. The first Nuggets Final will be held at the Northern Southland meeting on 5th October and is worth $15,000. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Well bred Spirit Of St Louis qualified nicely at Gore today. The three year old gelding by Sweet Lou is trained by Graeme Anderson and was bred by Trevor Casey who shares in the ownership with some of Anderson’s regular clients including Pauline Gillan, Steve Pulley and Ray Chaklin. That trio also have shares in Eamon Maguire. Spirit Of St Louis is out of the Art Major mare Spirit Of Art whose first foal Dracarys has won ten races in West Australia including the Group Three Two Year Old Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park. Spirit Of St Louis with Mathew Williamson qualifying at Gore today       - Photo Bruce Stewart   Bruce Stewart

Majestic Rose provided Hilderthorpe trainer Kerry Kelly with her first winner. The Majestic Son mare was having her twenty fourth start today and her second for this season. She was four wide going into the first turn before driver Mathew Williamson took her to the lead. She then handed up to Barham Belle. Williamson took the passing lane when the field turned in and held on to beat a late run from Justan’s Sister. She took the race by a neck. Kelly who first had a license in 1984, bought Majestic Rose from the yearling sales in 2016 for $8,000. “She was my first purchase at the yearling sales and I have no idea why I bought her. I just liked her,” she said.  “I’ve dabbled with horses for donkeys years but we had a house fire and had four young kids so we put the horses on the back burner. Because my husband (Bruce) is now retired we decided to go for it again. We enjoy it.” In the 1980s Kelly worked for Ray Wilkie and Ron Carter at Forbury Park and later for Oamaru trainer Clarrie Woodward. One of her first horses was Casey’s Chance (Jack Chance – Casey Girl). From seventeen starts his best placing was third at Forbury Park in April 1985 when driven by junior driver Ray Faithful. “He (Casey’s Chance) had accidents and only had one good leg.” Majestic Rose’s dam Duchess won once and is out of Sunvette which left the handy trotter Mountbatten – the winner of eight races.  Kelly says Majestic Rose is a flighty mare who has a few tricks. “That’s why I like to stick with one driver. She’s a bit of a problem child at times and you have to be careful when you’re shoeing her. Her favourite trick is rearing up in the air, slamming down on the over check snapping the middle of the harness. She also likes to swing sideways. That’s why she’s got full winkers and a hood on.” Majestic Rose (8) beating Justan's Sister (6)           - Photo Bruce Stewart  Kelly says the mare likes to keep moving while around at the start. “If you stand her still you’re asking for big problems. Any time the starter says ‘right’ or blows his whistle she’ll go in the air.” Kelly currently has five horses in work including Iron Woman which ran seventh today. She’s worked for most of her life on dairy farms while husband Bruce has been a chef. They jog their horses on a small clay track and float them to the Oamaru track which is only 1.5 k’s away for fast work.   Bruce Stewart

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